Island receives $51 million federal injection for child education
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, along with Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz and the head of the Administration for the Care and Integrated Development of Children (ACUDEN by its Spanish initials), Robert Carlos Pagán, announced on Tuesday that the federal government approved $50.8 million to guarantee, through ACUDEN, excellence in care and primary education services to thousands of minors on the island.
“Improving the conditions of preschool and primary education is a priority in my government; that is why we continue to have the support of the federal government, which once again supports our actions through this multi-million-dollar allocation of funds,” the governor said in a written statement. “In my administration we will continue to work tirelessly to provide children, as well as professionals who work in care centers licensed by ACUDEN, the best tools for an optimal learning and working environment.”
Pierluisi said the funds from the Child Care Program are intended to increase the accessibility, availability and quality of early childhood care and development services while supporting parents and guardians to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
The Family secretary added that “many families depend on the services we provide in ACUDEN, so it is necessary to continue with the mission of achieving access to high-quality care in the child population.”
“We are very pleased with this allocation because it allows us to continue with the objective we have as an agency, which is to continue investing in children and identifying the available resources, while continuing to strengthen preschool education in Puerto Rico,” González Magaz said.
The Child Care Program has 4,519 participants and 96 service providers licensed by the Family Department and ACUDEN centers. It also provides services to children from zero to 12 years and those with special needs are extended up to 18 years. Currently, some 1,630 jobs are subsidized through the federal program.
Pagán, the ACUDEN administrator, said the increase in funds contributes to good management and faithful compliance with federal government regulations.
“We are demonstrating good practices in the administration of funds, thus generating the confidence of federal agencies for the injection of larger appropriations into budgets,” he said. “This leads us to be able to guarantee services for our children with excellence in our operations.”
He said the funds will serve as an incentive to give continuity to the revitalization of the ACUDEN centers, guaranteeing their operation and maintaining or increasing the employment opportunities they generate.
Last August, the governor announced that the employees of care centers and homes licensed by ACUDEN would receive bonuses of up to $4,000, in addition to incentives of up to $400 for the medical plan and $200 for transportation expenses, as part of the Labor Assistance Program, whose economic impact is $20 million from the Child Care Stabilization Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and will benefit more than 2,000 employees.